BI Leadership

2015 IDG Big Data Survey - 3 Things You Should Know

The results of a recent IDG Enterprise survey of 1,139 IT decision makers are out.

The report has some fascinating insights regarding the growth of "big data" within the enterprise, and how the BI/IT teams and business users plan to find insights in this ocean of data.

Here are the three trends I found most interesting:

1. It’s all about them data analytics tools.

More now than ever, business leaders understand that they must first process and organize data in order to gain value. In fact, a whopping 66% of respondents cited data analytics tools as their top solution for investment this year. This is a full 10-point increase from 2014. Though it’s hard to ignore the media buzz around predictive analytics, the fact is it remains much closer to the bottom of the investment priorities list, at 37%.

Business users see this, too. Two of the top three business objectives that drive investments into data-driven initiatives are to improve the quality (61% of respondents) and speed (51% of respondents) of decision-making.

This indicates an important synergy between the two organizations – the CIO organization that wants to provide value to business users through data initiatives, and an increasingly data-driven business organization that wants to vote with its budget to help speed up decision making and ensure the best quality of decisions made.

Consider this alongside the findings from 2014 Gartner BI & Analytics Platforms Magic Quadrant. Gartner moved all vendors in the Leaders quadrant to the left in terms of “Completeness of Vision.” In other words, no one vendor is fully addressing the critical space in the market for "governed data discovery" — i.e., platforms that address both business users' requirements for ease of use and enterprises' IT-driven requirements. Ouch. There is a huge market opportunity for vendors like ThoughtSpot to provide IT-worthy enterprise class governance without compromising end user experience.

2. Unstructured data might be all the rage right now, but structured data continues to run the enterprise.

More than three times those surveyed among enterprise companies (1000+ employees) voted structured data as a critical priority when compared to unstructured data. Overall, 86% of those surveyed had structured data as critical or high priority. Only 20% reported that unstructured data is a primary focus for their data-driven initiatives whereas 32% reported that managing unstructured data is not on their short list of things to do.

What does this tell us? The buzz around unstructured data is that and nothing more. It has yet to find its way towards concrete initiatives to utilize the data to generate insights.

This reality is also called out in a recent study by Gartner, which found that over 50% of the companies polled were not planning on adopting Hadoop in the near future. So much for the "big data" revolution!

Based on personal interactions at events and customer meetings, I’ve noticed the same trends. Many customers say they have unstructured data, but when asked how they plan to use the data, the conversation shifts towards how they can convert it to a semi-structured or structured format for easier analysis. This also mirrors the concerns from business users who observe that they need to get the data in some structured format to derive value.

3. Top three on the enterprise big data wish list? Integration, security, and ease of use.

The top three criteria for vendor evaluation in the analytics world are:

(a) integration into existing infrastructure

(b) ability to meet security requirements, and

(c) ease of use

In addition to the integration criteria from the past, an increased focus on security means that IT/BI teams are extra wary of shortchanging security for added ease of use that the newer breed of desktop tools promise. This is reflected in the Gartner MQ observation around governed data discovery and the need for the CIO organization to focus on value-added tasks such as data governance, data quality and data integration without getting bogged down by a reporting queue.

Similarly, our conversations with customers have shown us that report requests are one-off requests. So, in addition to the time spent on the report itself, the time spent created materialized views, aggregate tables, cubes and other artifacts to aid with the report creation is time wasted. If self-service were to actually deliver on its promise of being easy enough for anyone to use, report generation would be streamlined and simplified, with enough guard rails to ensure that enterprise security is not compromised.

The full survey has many other interesting insights, including the fact that the top three verticals where structured data initiatives were deemed to be the highest priority were financial services, healthcare, and government. Overall, while limited to this sample population, this IDG survey alludes to interesting opportunities for companies building analytics tools that are easy to use at enterprise scale, without compromising security, speed of arriving at results, and integration into existing platforms.

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